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Everything posted by Becca_King

  1. Do people think the noise is often worse in opera houses, which were intended to carry every (operatic) sound as far as possible, rather than in dance theatres such as London's Sadler's Wells? Edit: Someone's already said that! But I think more manufacturers are beginning to pad the pleats of the shoes - the pleats of Bloch Serenade II are padded. And in Russia, aren't dancers taught to spring onto pointe rather than roll there? Could that have somehting to do with anything?
  2. The performances are not going to take place on the days and times they are scheduled to? Or the dancers scheduled to dance are not going to dance?
  3. I don't know if you're being serious or not, but - there's no pointe work in Highland Fling. The girls wear jazz shoes in Act 1 and bare feet in Act II. I doubt I'll make myself popular by saying this, but I think Bourne's sylph is more 'otherworldly' than the balletic sylph. That doesn't mean I prefer his version - I love them both. From where can one get hold of the POB 1972 video, please? I've never seen it anywhere online or in a real shop.
  4. Thank you. I didn’t realise the students were assessed on pre-set material – I thought they were assessed in a standard class. And the jury seems to represent the whole spectrum of the organisation. Edit: Sorry, I posted this before the French text had been deleted - my posting doesn't make sense anymore!
  5. I'd like to ask some questions of the POB regulars here. Firstly, I take it that the students from the top divisions of the school (as well as the other divisions) are put in rank order. Is the director of the company obliged to admit into the company the student(s) who came top of their class? If so, does this make the selection of new corps de ballet members very fair and transparent, or is it still very subjective? How many people assess the students, and are they assessed mainly on technique, or on artistic elements which are, by nature, more subjective?
  6. I have a recording of 'A Folk Tale' which I taped from a UK TV channel, Artsworld. I assumed it had once been released commercially, as most of Artsworld's output has been, but I may be wrong.
  7. Thanks for the information. Could you explain the POB school system to me? I try to follow the French forum on another website and I gather that the students are put in rank order each year and on the basis of this can be moved up, asked to repeat a year or asked to leave? Can they only be asked to repeat once? I'm interested because I think the company's corps are just amazing and of course this is greatly due to the schooling.
  8. One would assume - perhaps incorrectly - that Daniel Stokes is not French. Is this true and do you know for how long he trained at the POB school? It would be unusual for POB.
  9. I’m intrigued - what does marketing have to do with ticket prices, other than that people will respond favourably to marketing if it includes information of low ticket prices? In the UK things have separate budgets as far as I know, and so lowering of ticket prices would not come directly from the marketing budget. It would be more likely to come from education and access. Perhaps the would need to decide whether reducing the marketing budget and giving more to education and access, for example, would have more positives or more negatives to the welfare of the company. In the US does the company just have onebig pot of money rather than lots of little ones?
  10. 'If done correctly, which means tight controls on the number available and where they are. It won't work in a theater with general unassigned seating, for instance. A discounted seat has to be less valuable than a regular price ticket. Otherwise it only drives the price point down, and makes people expect to pay $10 for a seat that has an actual cost of $120. Or it pisses the people who paid full price off.' The Sadler's Wells in London offers a limited number of £8 seats for students for every performance. That sort of thing... I undertstand that it's different in America - that's why I'm asking. But I was really explaining what happens in England after Bart mentioned the BRB ticket pricing policy. Also, individual sponsors and legacies can cover the cost, like with the Paul Hamlyn matinees at the ROH, so it doens't have to come out of the company's main budget.
  11. But in some cases, the seats would just stay empty anyway, so surely better to have someone in the seats and not get any money, than not have someone in the seats and not get any money?
  12. Bart said 'Most ballet performances have (sadly) a lot of unsold tickets right up to the curtain, and some offer discounts at the last minute, for those who don't want to commit early on. This is random and inconsistent, probably put into effect when things aren't selling well. This encourages the one-time attender, but does not provide for followup and return. That's why I think that more companies would benefit from a 10-pound a seat policy (for some performances at least) or something like the Fourth Ring Society.' Bart, I just want to pick up on this £10 seat policy before I run off to class, as I agree with you very much on this. The BRB £10 seat policy was only applicable in Sunderland, in the north-east of England (now it's £15 adults, £7.50 children) and is still applicable for programmes of all -new choreography in Birmingham. The thing about these tickets is that they can be booked in advance. A theatre in York also does a £3.50 policy for under 25s. For less popular programmes, all tickets are £3.50 for this age group, and for more popular programmes (like ballet), the first 50 under-25s to book get £3.50 tickets. This encourages people to book in advance, and to return eventually *without* the incentive of cheap tickets - it builds loyalty. The Royal Opera House (which doesn't do concessions for children, OAPs etc) has recently introduced two new forms of standby tickets at £10. However, as the word standby suggests, they are only released a day or so in advance and there is no indication of which performances will have them, so for people like me who live a couple of hundred miles away or more, they are no use - we would make the journey if we could plan it in advance around the £10 tickets, but the day before the performance train tickets will cost astronomical prices. Far better, IMHO, to have a certain number of guaranteed bargain tickets on a first-come-first served basis, particularly if it can be assumed in advance that a programme won't sell brilliantly - ie if it's a mixed bill rather than Swan Lake. As a child, I started watching ballet regularly on the BRB £10 scheme, and now I buy tickets for most performances of their northern England tours - ie up to five in a week when they're here, plus tickets for a companion- so it does pay off for companies, I think, particularly as when I'm away from Sunderland and watching BRB I'm more than happy to pay 'normal' prices (as happy as a student can be to hand over money! ) And if I get rich :blush: I can see myself donating large sums of money to the company, as well as attending more and more performances.
  13. Do you have to buy a subscription, or can people just buy individual tickets? And in the US is the loss covered by individual sponsors, seeing as there are no state subsidies? Did there used to be state subsidies, and if so did they help towards touring? In London last October we saw Danses Concertantes, with members of NYCB, which I think was during their autumn break. Do dancers organise things like this within the US when they're on holiday?
  14. Helene, you say Of course it's a big deal for the regional company, but is it a big deal in NYC? Or do a lot of people in NYC just say 'that's nice' and carry on watching the NYC-based companies? Do you think brief exchanges between companies would be a good idea? Of course they would have to be companies of roughly the same size and reputation, but simplisticly wouldn't it be cheaper for companies if they had the use of another company's orchestra and theatre on tour, and more or less only had to pay to lug their equpiment between theatres? Do you think that would also encourgage less 'overlapping', ie. one regional company spending time in NYC and therefore leaving its region without a company for a while, while both ABT and NYCB were also performing in NYC at the time, so the regional company didn't get the audience it deservered anyway? Also, what about 'splinter groups'? In England, next season the Royal Ballet will have 99 dancers, but there will probably be some times when only half of them are needed to perform the programme in London. Therefore, in my dreams it would be lovely if twenty or so dancers broke off for a week at a time to do a bit of touring in the UK and abroad, not of big three-acters but of triple bills made up of one-acters in the current RB season, or even of one one-acter and some solos and pas de deux. Could that happen/does that happen in the US? Similarly, some of the UK companies do small- scale touring when money allows. This involves a company splitting in two and touring two seperate mixed bills to lucky smaller theatres (which wouldn't normally see the full company) around the UK. For example, in under two weeks this spring BRB covered 8 more venues than it normally would by splitting in two, with each half doing a few nights at a time in four smaller venues. Does this happen?
  15. Bart - just to make it clear, I admit to having *no* knowledge of the geography of the US. When I talk about the geography of the UK, I am just pointing things out/remarking on things in case anyone should care to know. What I mean to say is, it may seem like I've been 'correcting' your UK geographty knowledge, which isn't the case at all - I was just putting the vague facts as I see them forward in case they were important to the discussion. It would be very hypocritical of me to do otherwise!
  16. Sorry Helene - I'm being naughty already! I thought that if I started a new thread, no-one would post.
  17. I think BRB choose their theatres partly because of theatre size. They go to Bradford rather than Leeds, and Sunderland rather than Newcastle, because the theatres are bigger, although Leeds and Newcastle would be considered the main cities in their respective areas. As you may know, Salford is really Manchester's main theatre - a pretty major UK city, probably a bit bigger than Edinburgh. I'd be very interested to hear more from anyone about the situation in America. You guys seem to have so many excellent regional companies. I mean, there are companies such as Boston and San Francisco whih seem to be just brilliant - I've seen Sarah Lamb dance with the RB, and I've seen the San Fran company at the Edinburgh Festival and in London - as well as good, steady companies such as Ballet West, which I saw at the Edinburgh Festival last year (I apologise for trying to judge these companies after only one or two viewings). I have often wondered whether most people have fairly easy access to ballet in the US - my definition of that in this instance would be a resident company or a good, fairly regular visiting company within 100 miles or so. Also, to what extent do NCYB and ABT tour in the US? This topic fascinates me as in England we are so small and it's easy not to see the bigger picture. And what sort of reputation do the regional companies have? In England people can be scathing of regional companies, even though they're the ones that are keeping dance in - well, the regions- going, seeing as the Royal Ballet doesn't tour in the UK. Is it the same in the US, or do some regional companies have as much respect as the Royal Ballet here? Since joining this site it has seemed to me that some of you in the US and other countries have more respect for the British regional companies than a lot of people in Britain do, and I wondered if this was because in the US, in many areas people are not so focused on NYCB and ABT. Again, please feel free to move this discussion elsewhere :-). Final EDIT: I mean, I honestly did not think that you guys would hold NBT and BRB in the esteem that you seem to, and I'm delighted and surprised by it. The way some - by no means all - people talk in England, one would think that people outisde the UK would barelt have heard of BRB and NBT. I think there is a general tendency in some quarters of England to put down anything, cultural or otherwise, which doesn't happen in the capital. Is it like that in the US?
  18. Hi Ceeszi, Have you read Toni Bentley's other book, Winter Season? She danced for Balanchine and the diary is fascinating: that season, she was trying to decide whether to give up dance. I read it after having loved her Suzanne Farrell biog.
  19. Hi Bart, London and Edinburgh aren't small cities but capital cities, and most of the other cities are pretty big too . I don't know if you know this, but BRB is specifically a touring company - that's why it travels a lot. It has a base but it only spends about 8 weeks a year performing there, and the rest of the season is spent in its regular cities, which mostly feel they have just as much a claim to it as Birmingham does, particularly as some of these cities generally aren't permitted by the Arts Council to be visited by other of the publicly funded touring companies - they're often only allowed one each (although I think people in Birmingham actually pay extra money towards it). For eg., I live near Sunderland so 'get' BRB, but I live a couple of hours train journey away from the nearest venue to which ENB tours, and that has been like that for years. It doesn't compare to the distances involved in America, but a lot of people in the UK feel that although we have five big or biggish ballet companies, they tend to gather in specific areas so that other areas don't get as much. For eg. all four English companies go regularly to London, and one is entirely resident there, but only two go to the capital of Scotland, and only one goes to Wales. None of the English companies go the Northern Ireland. And while the Birmingham-based BRB and the Leeds-based NBT go to London, the Royal Ballet doens't return the favour to Leeds and B'ham. Personally I feel that we have plenty ballet companies and dancers to go round, but not enough dialogue between the companies and not enough willingness, and sometimes money, or at least money spent in the 'right' areas, to move around. Therefore the ballet coverage is patchy in the UK, when it could be a nice even coverage. If you're living in Aberdeen and you want to see the Royal Ballet, you have an eight-hour train trip each way, and yet they're our 'national company'. But that's just my opinion . And it's off topic again. But I'd be interested to hear what it's like in the US. I notice that regional companies like Pennsylvania Ballet are in regions pretty close to NYC, and I wonder whether there are any regions which have nothing (ballet-wise) while others have so much? Please feel free to move this post if it prompts any discussion on the topic. As for your comment about the distance between the cities making touring easier, I've always agreed with that when discussing the companies which don't tour (or company which doesn't...). I still maintain that it's easier for a publicly funded company to tour than for the average person to travel hundreds of miles to visit that company - touring may be expensive for a company but I think it's their duty when they're receiving money from taxpayers UK-wide - but that's a different topic as the BRB are one of the companies which do tour pretty extensively in England. Touring is a pet subject of mine - beware . The Sleeping Beauty is the Peter Wright version after Petipa. I'm afraid I don't know whether Molly Smollen will be dancing in San Fran. I will really miss her and Helimets. I remember them particularly in ballets like Giselle and Romeo and Juliet, and Helimets made a fine Apollo and certainly looked the part. And Smollen has exquisite feet. *apologies for the multiple edits - as I said, this is a pet topic of mine!
  20. This is the season so far, mainly for the first half of the season - there will be more dates. Birmingham Hippodrome 5-8 October Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko) 12-15 October Hobson's Choice (Bintley) Sunderland Empire 18-19 October Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko) 20-22 October Hobson's Choice (Bintley) Sadler's Wells (London) 25-26 October Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko) 27-29 October Hobson's Choice (Bintley) Plymouth Theatre Royal 1-2 Nov Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko) 3-5 Nov Hobson's Choice (Bintley) Edinburgh Festival Theatre 8-9 Nov Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko) 10-12 Nov Hobson's Choice (Bintley) Birmingham Hippodrome 8-15 Dec Beauty and the Beast (Bintley) The Lowry, Salford 18-21 Jan Sleeping Beauty Birmingham Hippodrome 22-25 Feb The Seasons (Bintley)/ Carmina Burana (Bintley) 28 Feb- 5 MarchSleeping Beauty 3-6 May Agon (Balanchine), Pulcinella (Brandstrup), The Firebird (Fokine) 10-13 May La Fille Mal Gardee (Ashton) There have been several retirements throughout the 2004-2005 season, including Rachel Peppin and Serge Pobereznic, and now Tiit Helimets is leaving to join San Francisco Ballet and his wife, Molly Smollen, will be leaving too. Asta Bazeviciute is leaving to join Dutch National Ballet. This leaves BRB with only 8 principals at the end of the season, whic is an unfortunate situation for a major company to be in. They are auditioning this month and it remains to be seen who will join the company and who will be promoted.
  21. It's certainly heartening that as Cope begins to drop roles from his dancing rep., he adds roles to his coaching rep. He's been in the Royal Ballet institution almost all his life (and probably knows ballets that he hasn't actually danced just from years of watching rehearsals, and performances from the wings) and I'd hate to see him just disappear, but thankfully it looks like that isn't going to be the case.
  22. Grace, I'm afraid I can't find your review, which I would be very interested to read. Is it on this site? This is probably off topic, but the fact that British companies are able to make a loss the first time they tour to a theatre, and then build up the audience gradually with special initiatives, is probably due to the Arts Council funding, as well as the demands it make on companies to take ballet to certain places. Am I right in thinking that in the US, if a company made a loss in a certain theatre it simply wouldn't return to that theatre? What is the case in Australia?
  23. 'Looking at The Dream's principal coaching, Jonathan Cope is included. He's never danced Oberon although he expressed a wish that he wasn't too tall to dance it a couple years ago. It makes me curious if he danced any other role in Dream, (though dancing a role doesn't appear to be a pre-requisite for being able to coach it here) - I'll have to ask around!' Do you think Cope is moving particularly to coaching taller dancers, perhaps regardless of role to a certain extent? He coached Pennefather in Month (so did Dowell - how I would have liked to sit in on those rehearsals!) and I think that both Watson in Dream and Pennefather in Month had an air of...I don't know - confidence? I'm pretty sure he coached Watson in R&J as well.
  24. 'But it's such a complicated story! And all that back-and-forth letter writing. You mention, Becca_King, that Northern Ballet Theatre gave a class about the ballet before the performance. Did anyone address the question of how to distill such a complex plot, with so many characters, into a accessible story ballet?' Thanks Bart. The ballet actually has an onstage narrator part of the time (an older version of Marquise de Merteuil), who is also the company's drama teacher. There is also a taped 'conscience' which poses questions for her to answer. I have to admit that the first time I saw this, I didn't bother to read the programme and I'd never read the book or seen the films, and I found it difficult to follow what was going on. I think that was mainly my fault, though, because it's one of those stories that everyone's meant to know! The ballet needs fewer than fifteen dancers so each dancer is able to wear quite a distictly- coloured costume to help the audience figure it out. This follows through so that when a dancer changes from a day dress to a nightdress, the nightdress is the same colour as the dress she was wearing before. 'Another question. NBT seems to specialize in full-length story ballets. Is that related to the nature of audience demand in the north of England? Which of them have been your favorites?' That is such an interesting question...It's a diverse region, but to generalise, we may not be quite as cosmopolitan as our southern neighbours and therefore we may sometimes need more encouragement to get out to the ballet, but here in the north of England there is a loyal following of ballet. Within that following there are people who see everything that tours here and beyond, and there are also people who follow a particular company. In England there are, as you may know, Arts Council restrictions about which companies go where, because the Arts Council rightly or wrongly don't want one company stepping on another's toes. Therefore they don't like two publicly-funded companies performing at the same theatre. So, when I watch Birmingham Royal Ballet in Sunderland or in its new mid-scale tour venues in the north, I meet some people who watch BRB and only BRB, and who wouldn't go and watch another company. It's the same with NBT, and NBT certainly has a distinct rep., with only a few plotless ballets such as 'I got Rhythm'. As I'm sure you know, it used to be under the direction of the late Christopher Gable, who of course leant towards the dramatic. Nowadays the emphasis is still on the word 'Theatre' and David Nixon is bringing and reworking many of his ballets from BalletMet Columbus, as well as some of the dancers. Personally, I miss Gable very much. The first ballet I saw was his Romeo and Juliet that you mention, if I am correct in thinking that's the one you saw. I was only nine or ten at the time so I don't know whether it's nostalgia... I still remember it as being wonderfully colourful and theatrical. The ballets NBT dance today are still very theatrical productions and I think that in that sense, they are suited to a northern audience, and perhaps a provincal audience in general, because they are full of coulour and have a story that can be followed by audiences who perhaps don't know a lot about ballet but want to have a good time anyway. However, another company which spends a lot of time in the north, touring to Manchester (North West), Bradford (Yorkshire) and Sunderland (Tyne and Wear), is Birmingham Royal Ballet, and they have a very different rep., dancing a lot of triple bills. When they first went to Sunderland they brought 'Swan Lake' and even that attracted ridiculously empty houses (see David Bintley's section in Barbara Newman's book 'Grace Under Pressure' for more about this). However they came back selling tickets at £10 for any seat in the house, and kept them like that for about five years before increasing the prices slightly, and now Sunderland audiences (as well as audiences in other theatres) happily see on average one triple bill and one full length ballet sharing a week's residence in the spring, and the same again in the autumn, as well as another triple bill touring to three or four smaller theatres in the Yorkshire and the north east - ie. at least as many triple bills as full-lenth story ballets. So, I think it depends on the people who follow each individual company. Sorry if I haven't really answered your question - it's a big and fascinating issue!
  25. York has seen an unusually large amount of dance in the past few months. In April there was a visit from a couple of dozen Birmingham Royal dancers as part of the second year of mid-scale tours, in May we saw the Leeds-based contemporary company Phoenix Dance, in July there will be a gala to mark the anniversary of the Yorkshire Ballet Seminars and two performances of George Piper Dances' Naked. This weekend NBT gave three performances of David Nixon's Dangerous Liaisons. It may surprise readers to know that despite being based in Leeds (in Yorkshire), NBT had never performed at the Theatre Royal until Friday. I saw the matinee and evening on June 18th. Unfortunately for NBT and for northern audiences who crave more ballet in their area, the audience at the matinee was dire. I think this was due mainly to Royal Ascot having moved to York for the year: most people from the surrounding area seemed to want to don a ridiculous hat and join in the fun. As well as this, NBT chose to peform at their first visit a ballet which had been performed in September only a half-hour's train journey away, rather than trying to woo new audiences with something they hadn't had an oppurtunity to see already. The upper circle and gallery were closed and those of us who had purchased tickets up in the gods were greeted with new tickets and directions to the stalls and circle. I ended up in a central stalls seat for £3.50, but would have preferred my upper circle seat and a bigger audience. When the dancers first came onstage, I could see them looking out into the empty auditorium and trying not to show their feelings about this. However, those of us that did turn up to the matinee were treated to just as dedicated a performance as we would have been if there had been a full house. Just as much effort went into the show, but I know that most of us in the audience felt strangely guilty about the empty house. Having seen Dangerous Liaisons in Leeds in the week of the UK premiere, I wasn't taken with it, and it still isn't one of my favourite ballets by any means, but I think it is growing on me as I get to know it. The matinee cast boasted a particularly fine performance from the Canadian Victoria Lane Green as the Marquise de Merteuil. I was surprised to learn that she was 'only' a coryphee, as her stage-presence and technique drew my eyes towards her. Desire Samaii as Madame de Tourvel also gave a polished performance as, in my opinion, did all the women dancing solo roles. In the evening, the audience had thankfully increased in number and only the gallery was closed. Keiko Amemori and David Kierce danced the lead roles, if they can be defined as such in a ballet like Liaisons which is, of course, made up of numerous pas de deux for various couples. I don't know whether it was just me, but I found the dramatic meaning of the ballet much increased in this performance. It was obvious from the class that we NBT Friends were treated to yesterday morning that Kierce is a bit of a character, and that was evident from his portrayal of Valmont, which was both funny and deeply dramatic in the best NBT tradition. He is also a very strong partner, and his breathtakingly long one-handed lift caused people in the upper circle to gasp and lean forward in their seats. Many of the dancers gave not one but two full-out performances yesterday, and it's just a shame there weren't more people there to see it. At a pre-performance talk, we were told that NBT hoped to do more mid-scale touring in the future. I hope that NBT return to York so that they can witness the York audience at its best in return for their hard work.
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